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Weekend Preview May 19-24
Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever

FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21

Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

Special Effects Wizard to Be Honored by Film Festival
Doug Trumbull to be Feted by BIFF

Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

Talk about a small world
Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak

twiGs Branches Out
Lenox boutique launches new e-tail site

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Weekend Cultural Highlights 1.15-1.18


By Seth Rogovoy

MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., is the place to be on Saturday. In addition to the Sol LeWitt installation and several temporary exhibitions, the place will be buzzing with energy, as Laurie Anderson, the woman who put the performance into art, has been in residence all week developing her next project, Delusion, which she will discuss and presumably share in some form or fashion at 4.

According to Anderson, Delusion – which premieres next month at Vancouver's Cultural Olympiad as part of the Winter Olympics taking place there – was conceived as a series of short mystery plays, jump-cutting between the everyday and the mythic. Combining violin, electronic puppetry, music, and visuals, Delusion is inspired by Balzac, Ozu and Laurence Sterne. Employing a series of altered voices and imaginary guests, Anderson tells a complex story about longing, memory and identity. At the heart of Delusion is the pleasure of language and a terror that the world is made entirely of words. [Boy, do I know that feeling. – SR]

Anderson sets out the story with these words: "You begin with a blank mind. There is absolutely nothing in it. Not a single picture. There is a void. No names. The first thing to wander into this mind is a small spotted dog named Terence and his owner, historian and social commentator Fenway Bergamot."

In the past, Anderson has used MASS MoCA to perfect some of her experimental work -- in two sold-out performances in December 2002, Anderson largely abandoned the electronica for which she had become famous and incorporated storytelling and acoustic music. In 2004, she developed and then presented a work-in-progress showing of The End of the Moon at MASS MoCA. A provocative look at contemporary American culture, the piece featured a blend of stories, songs, and instrumental music and was inspired in part by her experiences as first ever Artist-in-Residence for NASA.

Laurie Anderson's “O Superman” launched her recording career, rising to number two on the British pop charts and subsequently appearing on Big Science, the first of seven albums for Warner Bros., including Mister Heartbreak, United StatesLlive, Strange Angels, Bright Red, and the soundtrack to the feature film Home of the Brave. Anderson has toured the world numerous times with shows ranging from simple spoken word performances to elaborate multimedia events.

Anderson's work as a visual artist has been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Prada Gallery in Milan and throughout Europe and the United States. Anderson has created numerous videos and films, and she has contributed music to films by Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme and dance pieces by Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Melissa Fenley and others. She has created pieces for National Public Radio, BBC, and Expo 92 in Seville. Recognized worldwide as a leader in the pathbreaking use of technology in the arts, Anderson continues to devise new creative tools.

Tickets for In Conversation with Laurie Anderson are $10. Premium seating is available for $20. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at http://www.massmoca.org.

But that’s not all, folks. Later that evening, MASS MoCA presents a performance by Denmark-born, New York-based multimedia artist Mikkel Hess, aka Hess Is More, at 8. PM.

TimeOut New York described a recent concert by Hess Is More as "strange and engaging-part disco, part experimental pop, part performance-art happening. Hess and his band...switched instruments freely, like an old K Records act with unusual dexterity."

Hess is a skillful singer, songwriter, and composer with the virtuosic ability to play multiple instruments and an eclectic sense of instrumentation that encompasses rock, jazz and experimental electronica. In his native Denmark, Hess is a well-known name with MTV and iTunes chart-topping success alongside work with the likes of the Danish Royal Theatre, National Danish TV, and the Danish Film Academy. Hess also has a unique poppy Steve Martin-esque sense of humor - it's appealing and inviting even though it's often filtered through quite a dark outlook.

Although he eventually was lured to the pop world, Hess approaches his band from a jazz perspective, basing his live act around improvisation. His live band features, among other accomplished musicians, Nikolaj Hess (Mikkel's brother) and longtime collaborator Jenno. Since moving to New York two years ago. Hess has opened his own recording studio on Broadway and performed at venues like the Museum of Natural History, Monkeytown and Nublu, the chic East Village club where he has found a like-minded group of eclectic music heads.

Tickets for the Hess is More are $14 in advance/ $18 day of show/$10 students. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. The galleries will stay open until 7:30 PM before the show. Full bar and dinner and snacks from Lickety Split are available before and during the show.

Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M., closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at http://www.massmoca.org.

But MASS MoCA is not the only museum in the Berkshires where things are happening this weekend. At The Clark in Williamstown, the exhibition Material Witnesses: Photographs of Things opens this weekend and runs through April 11, 2010.

Since its invention in the first half of the nineteenth century, photography has been used for documentary purposes, faithfully recording the details of archaeological artifacts, works of art, and natural specimens. Appearing to be no more than bearers of information or certificates of authenticity, many such photographs are not as simple as they might seem at first glance. The exhibition considers how documentary images are not only material witnesses to times and places past, but works of art as well.

The seventeen-piece exhibition features photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton, Eugène Atget, Henri Jean-Louis Le Secq, Charles Thurston Thompson, Linnaeus Tripe, Edwin Hale Lincoln, and Adolphe Terris. These photographs are material witnesses in the transformation of mundane objects - stones, flowers, china - into significant subjects-mementos, symbols, art.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (open daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Adult admission is charged June 1 through October 31. Admission is always free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

And also on Saturday, at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., the new exhibition To Rockwell, With Love: Fan Mail and 'The Saturday Evening Post' opens, and runs through May 16, 2010. The exhibition features a selection of Norman Rockwell's fan mail which he received in response to his magazine illustrations. Saturday’s exhibition opening includes a dramatic reading of letters inspired by
Norman Rockwell's art from around the world, accompanied by music.

Also on Saturday night, Mission Bar + Tapas in Pittsfield presents two singer-songwriters beginning at 8. Nominated for “Best Folk Act” at the 2009 Boston Music Awards, Audrey Ryan, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, describes her sound as “baby-making music.” Among the instruments she’ll be bringing with her are an electric Japanese axe, a vintage Gibson acoustic, a retro 80’s-era Casio keyboard, and an accordion. Also appearing with Audrey is Richard Julian, who Entertainment Weekly describes as a New Yorker who “tosses off self-addressed put-downs with the ease of the young Springsteen during his acoustic Jersey-boy period.” Mission is at 438 North Street in Pittsfield, Mass.

Keep this one under your hat, because we don’t want the whole world to know, but Six Feet Under actress Lauren Ambrose – best-known in these parts as a fantastic singer and bandleader, performs with her group, the Leisure Class, on Monday night at 8:30 at the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass. A trained vocalist, Ambrose and the group specialize in early 20th century jazz vocal tunes.

Seth Rogovoy is Berkshire Living’s award-winning editor-in-chief and cultural critic. He is the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet.

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